Nov 7, 2005
I just post this topic to make people aware of the reality in Cambodian traffic.

This week we had a Motorcycle accident about 25 km north of Kampong Chnang. We were 3 people driving together when a local honda copy motorbike driven by two drunk khmer on the left side of the road in wrong direction suddenly decided to make a U-turn just in front of my friend driving second in the row. He could do nothing but brake before he hit the khmer bike sending the kmers on a short flying trip without helmets and my friend on a shorter trip over the handle bars.

I personally did not see the accident but our third guy was driving very close behind and saw everything. When I arrived to the scene two unconsionous khmers were taken care by some locals and my friend just trying to stand up. My first thought was that quickly escape the scene but my friend was not fit for that. So I just took away the keys from the bike so that the locals can not take them to prevent our escape.

Soon arrived the Village Head and he told us that we must wait for the police to arrive. They came quickly and the police boss could only speak russian. Since my russian vocabulary is only useful when you meet beautiful russian ladies in St Petersburg or in Estonia we could not communicate. The two still unconsionous khmers were put into a pick up taxi to hospital and I gave them each 1000 Baht for hospital telling the police that it is a gift not a confession of guilt.

The police started to draw pictures of the scene and we took pictures of everything trying to look very professional. I personally showed the police boss how it happened and he seemed to understand.

Then arrived the Tourist Police and he spoke good english. We tried to tell him that we want to settle the matter quickly and continue to Phnom Penh. He told us to go together with him and 5 other police to the hospital and try to make a deal. The hospital was full of relatives and friends of the victims One of the victims had already waken up but the other was treated by icebags around the head and both were getting some liquid injected.

Our first round of negotiating was succcesfull, 1000 Baht to one victim and 2000 tothe other, but then other relatives wanted their shares.

Next negotiating round ended up in a settlement of 7000 Baht but before we could pay and leave the Tourist Police Boss phoned and said he want to meet us before any settlement.

So off we went back to the scene and the waiting DR400. Then the Police say that they take the bike to the police station by car because you can not drive it. The front brake disk was badly hit and you could only just and just drive it slowly. But off I went and the police drove my 650. At the next motor cycle repair shop I just took away the brake caliper and drove without front brake to the police staion. There we waited for the Tourist Police Commander but he never came but we had a nice time drinking beer and eating food with the polices (at our expense off course)

Since the evening came we said that we want to stay in Kampong Chnang and after signing a paper stating that we will come back in the morning and leaving the DR400 and one passport at the police station we went to a good hotel with police protection. After drinking a few beer our Tourist Police friend went home.

Next morning back to the police station at 8 and then we wait. A new police type also arrived the Police Immigration Chief and he wanted just to train his english, What duties he had in Kampong Chnang with no foreign borders remained a mustery.

Then arrived the Tourist Police Commander with plenty of stars and flags on his uniform and after a quick hand shake ceremony he said that the traffic police will now take care of the matter together with our Tourist Police friend.

At the traffic police office was a "tribunal" established , on one side some of the victims relatives on the other side the "guilty" three falangs and in the middle the tourist Police and on a little higher estrade the traffic police. Both damaged vehicles were put outside. After looking at the several reports that was done at the scene and listening to my arguments the traffic police suprised us by saying that according to Cambodian traffic law there is no doubt that the khmer driver is wrong. But... and the Tourist Police continued we have to realize that the two victims have nothing and you have much more therefore you must pay something...

For us westerners such a argumentation seems difficult to accept but it is understandable and if you go to Cambodia that is reality.

Off course the victims demanded now still more but after I was acting "upset" and "angry" and talking about paying nothing and talking about Phnom Penh Lawyers we agreed on the 7000 Baht and the traffic Police made an agreement which was signed by the victims sister and brother und us by your thumb stamp. The police also made a paper that the bike was freed from custody.

Everybody happy and our Tourist Police friend told us that the traffic Police Chief maybe would like to see us and he wait for a gift. I went to see him and left his room he smiling and 1000 Baht more rich. Then our Tourist Police friend told me that we must say goodby to his boss but luckily he was out so we saved 1000 Baht. Anyhow we gave still 1000 Baht to our Tourist Police friend because he had really been helpful (and he had told us that he need money to buy a gun)

So my advice is that if you have an accident, first try to flee the scene. If that is not possible try to settle the case as early as possible . The more people that get involved the more expensive will it be. And remember that it is not a matter of who is wrong or right YOU PAY BECAUSE YOU ARE FALANG.

Otherwise our trip was good. I drove the DR400 without front brake to Phnom Penh and had it repaired at Lucky Lucky.

Now we have one experience more.